In this era of hydrocolloids in the kitchen, Floyd Cardoz has the right training to be a molecular gastronomist: The Bombay-born chef studied biochemistry in graduate school. Yet the Top Chef Masters Season 3 winner is not interested in creating science-geek food. "When most people go to a restaurant, they don't want to feel intimidated by what they're eating," he says.
He put his theory into practice in an unlikely venue, Manhattan's now-shuttered Tabla. There, he made Indian food approachable by combining ingredients that spoke to his heritage with Western ones, like Oaxacan pasilla chiles and fennel. Cardoz worked from one simple principle: "If you give people something familiar to connect to, like salmon fillet or roast chicken, they're much more likely to take a risk on a new flavor," he says.
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As Cardoz prepared for this month's opening of North End Grill, a reimagining of the American bar and grill with a focus on seafood, F&W put his philosophy to the test. We challenged him to create two takes on three classic American roastsprime rib, salmon and chickenwith one version calling for Indian ingredients and the other Western ones.